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EC/PS questions/ advice

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by chemphd, May 9, 2007.

  1. chemphd

    2+ Year Member

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    Hi everyone,
    In filling out the AMCAS, do you always need to write something in the narrative portion (if it's a well known award, do you need to state what exactly it is)? Would you list any shadowing in here, or save that mostly for the PS?
    Another thing- I met with our premed adviser here, who told me I need more clinical experience working with sick people (I volunteer at a nursing home- lots of sick people- I've been volunteering long enough to see people's conditions deteriorate over time; I shadow and see sick people) if I'm going to have a shot at getting in. Any takes on this? Should I go out and try to find more to do? I also am working on finishing up my Ph.D., and the research I've been doing is part of what is driving me in this direction... Do I listen to the premed advisor (who changes her mind about this every time I talk to her) or just keep going with what I'm doing?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!

    -Chem
     
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  3. menaniac

    menaniac Moxious!
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    I'm a non-trad who volunteered part-time for hospice. I haven't shadowed any doctors per-se, but have a lot of patient contact and am around *very* sick people all the time. How much service work you need to do I think is dependent somewhat on how much patient contact you have in your position, and how often you go in. What the admissions people are looking for, I think, is that you have gotten your feet wet enough to be making an informed decision about what you are getting yourself into. Its also very important to clarify exactly *why* you want to make the switch to medicine as opposed to persuing the science PhD you are finishing up. It is important to have something better to say than "I really don't like benchwork, and I think I want to help people, so I think I'd like being a doctor" (or whatever). Going out and having various experiences in medicine will give you the experiencial support you need to re-affirm your medical aspirations, or will open your eyes to the sometimes grueling reality of medicine so that you will re-think it if its not for you. Casting a wide net volunteer-wise can expose you to various branches of medicine so you can see what they are like. You shouldn't necessarily go and do a dozen things, though, just so you can list them on the applicaion. Just make sure that whatever you do has meaning and value to you, and let that show in your personal ststement. Just my 2 cents. Good luck!:luck:
     
  4. chemphd

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    menaniac, thanks for your response and for sharing your experience. When I started my Ph.D. program, I never thought in a million years that I would want to go to medical school by the end. I started volunteering at the nursing home to get out of the university demographic (and see people who were outside of the 18-30 age range:)) and ended up realizing that not only do I miss interacting with people (I could get this from teaching), but that instead of listening to the residents of the nursing home talk about their medical problems, I wanted to be able to do something to increase their health. I'm sure that visiting with them helps a lot, but it struck me that my real desire was to be able to intervene in some way to alleviate their pain, etc. I go there almost every week (barring terrible weather, being sick, and the like) for a couple hours. I've gotten to know a lot of them, people I've known have gotten sicker and sicker and have died... I'm also shadowing a doc who does IM and geriatrics, so I've visited both kinds of patients with him. It might be a good idea to get a little more exposure to different kinds of medicine though- thanks.
    I don't hate doing research (that's not why I'm doing this), but have decided that it would be a wonderful complement to being a physician (and be able to work with people directly and work behind the scenes to increase their health). It's almost like the direction my research is taking (understanding the basic biology behind some diseases) has converged with things I was doing in my "outside lab life."
    With the pre-med advisor- it probably has more to do with their usually dealing with 20 year olds than anything else. She suggested that I start volunteering at a free clinic, just so that I could list it on my application... I guess that just doesn't scream sincerity to me.
    Thank goodness for the non-trads here and sane advice:)!
    Thanks again:)

    -Chem
     
  5. menaniac

    menaniac Moxious!
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    It sounds like you are doing the right things for the right reasons! I was also surprised by wanting to enter medicine after starting on a different path. I had been an applied Marine Biologist for a while, but had to switch careers when my husband got his PhD and a job far from the ocean. I became a massage therapist, working mostly with geriatric patients doing re-hab after surgery , hip/knee replacements, and with chronic pain. Listening to them complain about their health issues, and how they were often treated by their doctors and other health-care providers spurred me into wanting to do somehting more to help them. Thus, medicine. Sounds like we are on similar tracks.

    One thing I think that did hurt my application a bit was the fact that I didn't have a real broad scope of shadowing/volunteer work. I had to work full time as well as go to school to finish my pre-recs, so time was tight. If I had to do it over again, I think I'd be a bit more assertive about finding people in different specialties to shadow (I tried, but was rebuffed several times), or volunteer not only in hospice, but also in the ER, maternity ward or OR if possible just to give me different perspectives. I think it would have helped a little. As it was, though, I had plenty to write about for my PS, and sometimes good eonugh is good enough. I got accepted, and start in August.

    Bottom line, do what appeals to you, but don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone a little. Be assertive and tenacious if you'd like to have a certain volunteer experience and its not coming easily. Good luck. I have a feeling that with your background you'll be fine! :D
     

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